Today, Patrick leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Patrick: One of the bigger driving forces within Batman Eternal is Carmine Falcone’s desire to rid Gotham of “freaks” like the Penguin and Professor Pyg. In effect, Falcone is trying to drive all the fantastical elements out of Gotham City — whether they’re heroes or villains doesn’t seem to matter much to him. He’s even gone so far as pit the police directly against the Bat Family, furthering the absoluteness of this idea of fantasy vs. reality. But there’s a point that Falcone is missing — or willfully ignoring: everyone engages in a little bit of fantasy to get what they want. What Jim Gordon experienced in the train station – was that fantasy or reality? Covering up a gang war: fantasy or reality? Issue 13 brings that dichotomy into stark relief, showing how embracing fantasy can be equal parts advantageous and horrifying. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 12, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Spencer: Batman Eternal is a loaded title. In our world, Batman is already 75 years old, and it’s easy to see this character, with his endless reinterpretations, existing on in perpetuity. Yet, within the narrative, Batman is very much fallible, and has already died once, with Dick Grayson taking up the mantle in his absence. Bruce Wayne may not be eternal, but the legacy he leaves behind will be, be it the good he does for the city or the crimefighters he raises, trains, and/or inspires. Of course, Batman’s not the only one in this title with a legacy.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 32, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Patrick: I was recently putting together a resume for a creative position, and I found myself completely unable to distill what’s special about me into a digestible collection of jobs and experiences. Just by virtue of being a human being for over thirty years, I’ve amassed a weird collection of skills and experiences, and the only reason I can believe that it’s all part of a single lifetime is because I was there to experience it all. I’ve got something of an obsessive mind, and a propensity to burn myself out, so my list of former passions is long. The point is, there’s a lot feeding into the person I am today, and while it’s easiest to say that I am the handful of things that have effected me most recently (i.e.: improviser, writer, comic enthusiast, administrator), that definition is woefully inadequate. The same is doubly true for superheroes, and Batgirl 32 revels in developments from the recent past while acknowledging a history (both real and invented) that demands to be honored.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 25, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Spencer: They say disaster brings out people’s true colors; some perfectly normal people turn on their neighbors for petty reasons, while others will risk their own lives to rescue total strangers. For Barbara Gordon—at this point still a few years shy of “Batgirl” status—the disaster of the Zero Year brings out her heroic side for perhaps the first time ever. While some of the other Zero Year tie-ins have felt a tad superfluous, this story feels like a first essential step in the heroic legacy of Barbara Gordon. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Chuck Maa are discussing Batgirl 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Drew: Superheroes lead miserable lives. The demands of serialized storytelling require that they are regularly beset by life-altering tragedies, are perpetually unlucky in love, and maybe die once or twice in their career. Month-to-month, it’s exciting, but when you total it all up, the life of your average superhero is unspeakably depressing. Take, for example, Barbara Gordon. Her mother abandoned her when she was a child because of her psychotic brother; her fledgling vigilante career was violently ended when she was shot in the spine; after regaining the ability to walk, she suffered from rather severe PTSD. Oh, and remember her psychotic brother? He grows up to be a serial killer who she now feels guilty of killing. Also, her dad also holds her responsible for killing her brother. Things seemed to be finally looking up for her last month, as she forgot her troubles and went on her first date with a new squeeze, but we all knew it couldn’t last. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: How do you say good-bye? If you’re a regular person saying good-bye to another regular person, you would probably do it with a wave, or maybe a handshake or a hug. Tonight the 4-year-old daughter of the owners of my LCS said good-bye to me by jumping up and down and shouting; come to think of it, I think Patrick has said good-bye to me the same way. Like I said, these are all perfectly legitimate, regular person ways to bid someone adieu. If you’re comic book writer Ales Kot saying good-bye to Suicide Squad, however, the best way to do it seems to be with sociopath’s musings on the meaning of love, followed by a battalion of missile-wielding drones and some pie. Not a bad way to go.
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Drew: Superhero team-ups are weird. Notions like marketability and synergy are taken into account over tactical utility, forcing writers to tie themselves in knots over why the Avengers would want the Hulk anywhere near them, or what value Aquaman adds to a team that already has actual superheroes on it. More importantly, a team-up often involves characters taking on specific roles within the team — which may not always “fit” their characters. Without any huge names on the title, Suicide Squad has a bit more flexibility in making the pieces fit together (and with the entire population of Belle Reve prison up for grabs, plenty of pieces to work with), but writer Ales Kot seems much more interested in how they don’t fit. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Drew: Gail Simone gets Barbara Gordon. I mean that both in that Simone understands Babs’ motivations and has a clear sense of her voice AND that she understands what makes her an interesting character. Early issues of Batgirl featured a fresh balance of uncertainty both under the cape (pertaining to PTSD and survivor’s guilt) and out of it (pertaining to the more pedestrian trappings of being an unemployed twenty-something looking for an apartment). More recent developments in this title (and Batman) have piled on a few more issues, from questioning the trust of Bruce Wayne to guilt over killing her own brother, which threatened to crowd out those elements I loved so much. Issue 22 finds both Simone and Babs taking a step back, separating the bat from the girl, and refocusing the story on Babs. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Patrick: I used to live in an apartment in Uptown Chicago with Taylor and our friend Andrew. This is right out of college and none of us really knew what we were doing in that town – just that we had some friends in the area and where else were we going to find jobs? The later part of that equation proved more taxing that we had originally expected (hooray for economic downturns!), and living there eventually became an endurance match against the city. You’d spend the morning sleeping, the afternoon looking for jobs, the evenings trying to figure out what the fuck you’re doing with your life, and the nights drinking. It’s a vicious little cycle, and every phone call to your folks to ask for a couple bucks so you could cover rent, every email from faraway friends, piled up into this feeling of helplessness – like you were stuck in a make-believe life that bore to similarities to the life you knew before. Oddly, it was getting jobs that we all hated that grounded us – provided structure to our lives. It’s just when Batgirl feels that her old life has totally slipped away from her that regains her structure the old fashioned way: doing her job and punching a villain in the face. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Suicide Squad 21, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Ales Kot completely blew me away with issue 20 of Suicide Squad, giving fans of the original series a taste of what made it so great, while completely reinvigorating the New 52 version of the book. With issue 21, Mr. Kot has blown me away again (along with a few security guards) and has delivered another absolutely thrilling entry. Best of all, Kot manages to continue his course correction of the character Harley Quinn by brilliantly using her to fix yet another troubled character of the New 52: Amanda Waller.